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Burns

Burnsiana

James Currie, MD FRS

Period:
19th Century
Description:

A stipple engraving made from an earlier portrait by Thomas Hargreaves of the first editor and biographer of Robert Burns.

 

After Robert Burns' early death in 1796, his friends agreed that a biography of the poet should be written, the proceeds from which would help to support his widow and young family. To this end they selected Dr James Currie, a medical man from Liverpool, originally born near  Annan, Dumfriesshire.

 

Currie was a reformed alcoholic with few literary credentials apart from his admiration of the poet's work. He had met Burns only once. At the time, however, those who knew Burns better were unwilling to take on the role of  biographer and the primary aim of the publication was not accuracy but to raise money for the family. The first edition of the biography was published in 1800 in four volumes, costing just over £1.50 the set. It was an immediate success, raising over £1,400. Other editions followed in 1801, 1802 and 1803.

 

Sadly, Currie's treatment of his subject raised misconceptions about Burns' life which survive to this day. He chose to put a moral slant on the events of the life of the poet and painted a picture of drunkenness and excess in his last years.

Materials/Media:
paper
Dimensions:
width: 152 mm, length: 185 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:1936.117
Digital Number:
DMBN270n
Creation Date:
1 November 1816 [published]
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council